Kenya needs to think outside the box and exploit the potential available in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) since Tanzania seems determined to lock Nairobi out of its market.
This proposition is borne out of the realisation that despite the construction of the Sh20 billion highway linking Arusha and industrial satellite town of Athi River, Kenya’s annual exports to Tanzania have dropped by more than a third since 2014 to Sh29.75 billion.
Imports from Tanzania also dropped slightly over the same period.
Tanzania has also been accused of actively placing road-blocks on Kenya’s trade with Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
None of this comes as a surprise to analysts who witnessed Dar’s departure from Comesa to join the Southern Africa Development Community.
Indeed, there was talk then that South Africa had lured Tanzania into SADC to build a firewall against Kenya’s encroachment into southern Africa.
Instead of wasting its time cajoling Dar-es-Salaam to open its market, Kenya should take a hard look at the opportunities available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
It can also expand trade with Kampala, Kigali and Burundi.
DRC is not only more populous than Tanzania but could also be used as a gateway to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These countries have long resented the overbearing South African domination of their markets and would readily welcome Kenyan goods and services.
It is worth noting that Kenya’s leading indigenous banks, KCB and Equity, have already set strong foundations in these countries and can be used as enablers to other business entrepreneurs.
To guarantee success, our leaders need to talk to their counterparts in these countries and agree on the type of industries each country will establish. They could borrow a leaf from Europe’s design and production of Airbus planes whose parts are produced in four countries but assembled in France. European nations use the same model in their motor vehicle production processes.
The attractiveness of this model is the reality that these countries, especially DRC, have a surfeit of raw materials needed to set up these industries. This would enhance job creation.
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